Man diagnosed in 1988 becomes the fifth person cured and in remission from HIV in historic milestone
**reports will often use “” around the word “cured” due to the treatment and patient monitoring still being ongoing. Similar to cancer, the status is that of remission**
A 66-year-old man in the U.S. has become the fifth person in the world to be cured of HIV
He also becomes the oldest person to be in remission from the virus and, of those cured, the person who had HIV the longest, having been diagnosed in 1988.
A 66-year-old man who was diagnosed with HIV in 1988 is said to be free of both the HIV virus and cancer, following a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor for leukemia.
In over 4 decades, just 5 people have been cured or possibly cured of HIV.
The breakthrough announcement was made at the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada.
The man, known only by the alias “City of Hope patient”, named after the Californian hospital he was treated in, was diagnosed in the 80s and is the oldest person to go into long-term remission of HIV without antiretroviral therapy (ART) for over a year, after receiving stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation.
The technique has been used to cure four other people in the past two decades. From a medical standpoint, patients in remission are usually considered fully cured if there are still no signs of active HIV virus over the following couple of years.
“When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence,” he said in a statement.
“I never thought I would live to see the day that I no longer have HIV,”
📣Breaking from #AIDS2022: City of Hope patient is 4th ever to achieve dual, long-term remission from HIV and acute #leukemia after stem cell transplantation from donor with a rare genetic mutation that stops HIV from replicating. Read: https://t.co/Rcpd8EhQZo @AIDS_conference
— City of Hope (@cityofhope) July 27, 2022
“We were thrilled to let him know that his HIV is in remission and he no longer needs to take antiretroviral therapy that he had been on for over 30 years,” Jana K. Dickter, an associate clinical professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at City of Hope who presented the data, said in a press release.
Due to the variables involved in City of Hope patient’s case, medical experts note that these procedures are not a viable treatment for the vast majority of people living with HIV, as the procedure requires bone marrow from a small group of people with a specific mutated form of the CCR5 protein.
CCR5 is a receptor on CD4+ immune cells, and HIV uses that receptor to enter and attack the immune system. But the CCR5 mutation blocks that pathway, which stops HIV from entering the cells and therefore replicating.
However, despite the breakthrough not being applicable on a larger scale for those living with HIV, scientists at the International AIDS Conference say breakthroughs like this provide hope and help to “illuminate the search for a cure”, and researchers say that the treatment can help further understanding of how the virus functions.
“While a transplant is not an option for most people with HIV, these cases are still interesting, still inspiring and illuminate the search for a cure,” University of Melbourne infectious disease specialist Dr. Sharon Lewin said.
In another case announced this month, Spanish researchers determined that a woman who received an immune-boosting regimen in 2006 is now in what’s medically classified as “viral remission”, meaning she still carries viable HIV, but her immune system has controlled any virus replication for over 15 years.
The first person to be ‘cured’ of HIV was ‘Berlin Patient’ Timothy Ray Brown, the second in 2020 was a man known as ‘London Patient’ who chose to remain anonymous, the third male was declared shortly after, and the fourth was the first-ever woman believed to be cured. Read more on her case here.
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